What is the CAM refugee/permit program?

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column, I answer a question from a reader who wishes to immigrate her child through the new Central American Refugee/Permission for Minors Program.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on each person's immigration history.

Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before starting any procedure.

This is the column:

I am Salvadoran and have lived illegally in the United States since 2009. I have two children in El Salvador and one of them is being persecuted by the maras. An immigration consultant told me that I can bring my son through a new program for Central American children. Is this true? -Emilia M.

Emilia, you are not eligible to bring your child to the United States through the new Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program. To apply for your child through the CAM refugee/permit program you must have legal status in the U.S. and unfortunately, because you are undocumented, you do not.

Notaries, immigration consultants, paper fillers and multi-services cannot give legal advice on this or any other immigration procedure.

In order to provide a safe and legal alternative for Central American children who risk dangerous journeys to reach the United States, the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented the CAM refugee/permit program that will help certain qualifying children in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras enter the United States legally.

The CAM refugee/permit program allows certain parents, who are lawful permanent residents of the United States, to file a petition through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to bring their children to the United States.

The CAM refugee/permit program requires that the child be classified as a refugee or a person eligible to travel to the U.S. for humanitarian reasons or in the significant public interest.

Refugee Status

Under immigration law, a refugee is a person who has fled or wishes to flee his or her country of origin because he or she has been a victim of persecution or fears persecution in the future because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

The United States considers refugees to be persons who are or will be outside their countries, and who are unable or unwilling to return there because they fear serious personal harm.

If a child from El Salvador, Honduras or Guatemala is approved for the CAM refugee program, the U.S. government classifies the child as a refugee. As a refugee, the child will be able to travel to the U.S. legally, take advantage of various public benefits that are granted to refugees and obtain permanent residency in the future.

Entry Permit

Children who are not eligible for refugee status will be considered individually for permission to enter the United States.

To obtain an entry permit, the child must meet several requirements, including demonstrating that he or she is at risk of personal harm in his or her home country and that for humanitarian or significant public interest reasons he or she is eligible to enter the country.

An entry permit is temporary and does not lead to permanent residence in the U.S. In addition, the child is not eligible to receive public benefits that are generally given to persons who have been granted refugee status.

Eligibility criteria for refugee program/CAM permits

Eligible child requirements:

1. Be the child of an eligible parent (biological, stepchild or legally adopted child).

2. Being single

3. Be under 21 years of age

4. Citizen of El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras

5. Residing in your country of nationality

6. Not having committed acts in the past that make him/her inadmissible to the country.

Eligible parent requirements:

1. Be at least 18 years of age.

2. Be lawfully present in the United States under one of the following categories:

Permanent Resident Status

● Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

● With a Temporary Permit to Stay

● With Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

● Deferred Action (Non-DACA)

● Deferred Forced Departure

● Suspension of Removal

Application Process

The CAM program began accepting applications on December 1, 2014.

An eligible parent may file Form DS-7699, Affidavit of Family Relationship (AOR) for children who are citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (CAM-AOR).

Form DS-7699 can only be obtained and completed with the assistance of the designated resettlement agency..

There is no deadline for submitting applications to this program.

For additional information, you can visit the CAM program page by clicking here. click here.

For a list of resettlement agencies where you can file the CAM-AOR form, as well as for additional information about this program, visit the Department of State's Refugee Processing Center web page by doing click here.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog inmigracionhoy.com.

Send your questions to preguntas@consultamigratoria.com. Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States). He is a past president of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current president of the Los Angeles Westlake South Neighborhood Council. To contact Mr. Castillo's office, please call (213) 537-VISA (8472).

The purpose of this column is to provide general information. There can be no guarantee or prediction as to what will be the outcome of the information presented by Dr. Nelson A. Castillo. The information should not be taken as legal advice for any individual, case or situation. Consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any immigration proceedings.